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Summit Looks at STEM Education Research and Impact on Communities and Schools

A summit taking place this week in Savannah, Georgia, will bring together national experts in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) with Georgia Southern University faculty to look at interdisciplinary STEM education research and the impact on schools and communities. The summit is hosted by Georgia Southern’s Institute for Interdisciplinary STEM Education (i2STEMe) and the Office of Research Services and Sponsored Programs.
“We’re looking at pressing research questions in STEM education,” said Robert Mayes, Ph.D., professor in the College of Education and director of the STEM institute. “We know that our schools, from kindergarten through college, need a profound change in how and what students learn related to STEM topics,” Mayes added. According to Mayes, the first step is research. “We can’t ask educators to stop what they’re doing to teach more STEM subjects. We have to know how best to present these topics through an interdisciplinary approach,” he added.
While the overarching theme of the summit is interdisciplinary STEM education research and the impact on communities and schools, specific topics to be addressed are rural STEM education, 21st century reasoning modalities, practice-based education applicable to STEM and place-based and problem-based learning. “Once we’ve established research foci, participants will be able to create research collaboratives that will ultimately give us the data we need to make informed decisions regarding interdisciplinary STEM education,” Mayes said.
The summit will take place May 28-30, in Savannah. It grew out of an international symposium on quantitative reasoning in math and science education held in 2012, also hosted by the STEM institute. College of Education faculty members are involved in the activities of the Institute, and some will be participating in this week’s summit. Faculty involvement highlights the importance of STEM education in the preparation of new teachers and the continuing professional learning of all P-12 teachers
As an example of interdisciplinary teaching and learning at the college level, the institute is offering an orientation class for incoming freshmen called Zombie STEM (Solutions to Epidemic Meltdown) that will investigate real world epidemic threats and solutions. The course is co-taught by faculty from six disciplines.

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